Kilbourne ready for home opener
Kilbourne's Jake Niggemeyer (facing) celebrates with teammate Alex Meehan after the Wolves scored a touchdown in a 37-3 victory Aug. 31 over Thomas. Buy This Photo
The Worthington Kilbourne High School football team will be playing in front of its home fans for the first time this season Friday, Sept. 7, when the Wolves finish non-league play against Olentangy Orange.
Both teams are coming off their first win. Kilbourne pulled away from host Thomas Worthington in the second half en route to a 37-3 victory on Aug. 31, and Orange jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first half on its way to a 35-10 win over Groveport.
"Orange was a (Division I) playoff team last year and (coach) Brian Cross looks to be building a program there to rival what he did when he was at Grove City," coach Vince Trombetti said. "He was the king of the wing-T offense there and Orange seems to be incorporating a lot of that. His teams are masters at the wing-T. This will be totally opposite of the Thomas game. With us and Orange, the clock's going to roll and we could be done in an hour."
In its opener Aug. 24, Orange led Olentangy Liberty 21-6 at halftime but lost 43-21. Kilbourne also struggled in the second half of its opener that same night, as the Wolves led 7-3 Olentangy at halftime but lost 17-14.
The Pioneers are led on offense by running back Mike Forbes, fullback Larry Rode and quarterback Kofi Hill.
Against Groveport, Forbes rushed for 146 yards on 20 carries and Rode had 109 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. Hill sat out the game with an ankle injury but is expected to return to the lineup against the Wolves. His backup, Jacob Stier, was 5-for-9 passing for 86 yards and a touchdown.
"Their fullback (Rode) is very good. (He is) a short, stout, hard runner and (Forbes) is supposed to be pretty special, too," Trombetti said. "Their quarterback (Hill) is very, very good. They have a lot of pieces on offense and their defense is solid.
"The key for us is we have to continue to improve. I told the kids you either get better or worse every week, you never stay the same. We obviously improved from the first week to the second week. What will we do this week?"
The Wolves made some personnel changes between weeks one and two and the moves paid dividends in their running game. After rushing for 54 yards against Olentangy, they amassed 352 yards on the ground against Thomas.
"On the offensive line, junior Matt Lacey got more playing time at one guard and sophomore J.C. Bartok got more turns at tackle," Trombetti said. "(Running back) Justin Stoner was out with an injury in the backfield and we ran more from the power-I (last) week.
"Chandler Bridges did a great job (filling in for Stoner) and had 112 yards on 16 carries and Isaac Lumpkin stepped his game up with 107 yards on 21 carries. Then Seth Hill had 81 yards on three carries. We were real pleased with Lumpkin because we told him he only gets to make one move, but then he has to turn it up and go north and south. He used his legs and shoulders and took advantage of the extra work over the summer in the weight room. I like the balance and teams are going to have to pick their poison in terms of who they want to stop."
Trombetti also was pleased with the play of defensive end Izzy Benzegala and linebackers Josh Happ and Brian Sommers as well as his special teams. Jonathan Watson made three field goals (26, 41 and 36 yards) and Hill had several punt returns that helped the Wolves maintain good field position in the second half.
Cardinals still seeking first win
Things don't get any easier for Thomas, which travels Friday, Sept. 7, to play undefeated Westerville Central.
The Cardinals dropped to 0-2 with their loss to Kilbourne. Central qualified for the Division I playoffs for the first time last season, finishing 8-3. The Warhawks defeated Thomas 28-13 last season.
"They beat up on Big Walnut (27-0) in the first game and (Big Walnut) usually has a strong team, and then they came back to beat New Albany (23-20 in overtime) last week," coach Scott Gordon said. "They showed a lot of character and poise against New Albany."
Against New Albany, quarterback Jared Drake threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Charlie Moushey to tie the score at 17 with 1 minute, 21 seconds left in regulation. The two then hooked up again in overtime on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Drake passed for 131 yards and ran for 113 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown.
"Drake is a great quarterback who was at Upper Arlington last season," Gordon said. "He loves to throw it but is a big-time dual threat as well. He can run it. We've got to try to make them one-dimensional, but right now they're a great football team hitting on all cylinders early on. They have a good go-to receiver in Moushey, too."
Gordon also is impressed with the way the Warhawks have played at the line of scrimmage.
"Their lines are very athletic and fast and that will present problems for all their opponents," he said. "Their defensive line has great first steps and they come at you aggressively. They do such a great job up front. They don't have to blitz often and can play in their base defense.
"Their offensive line does a great job protecting Drake in the gun. People aren't even getting close to him."
Thomas has been outscored 65-9 through two games. Against Kilbourne, the Cardinals had 171 total yards while allowing nearly 400 yards. They also had trouble in punt coverage, according to Gordon.
"We gave up a 34-yard halfback pass for a touchdown on a play that started with seven seconds left," Gordon said. "How can you bite up on that? We've got to play smarter, execute better and not allow one big play to bring us down the rest of the game. We need to respond on offense and not rely on the defense all game."
Running back Tony Harvard led the Cardinals' offense against the Wolves, rushing for 92 yards on 24 carries.
"We've got to support him some," Gordon said of Harvard. "We had so many breakdowns, where if we sustain one more block or don't miss a blocking assignment, he could've gained a lot more yards. We were close to several big plays. We've got to start making some of them now."